Rabbit Holes Everywhere

Chris Ware week continues, and so far it's much more pleasant to moderate than the unexpected Dave Sim month we just had ... go figure. This morning brings another installment of our David Ball-organized multi-author symposium, this time by Katherine Roeder. An excerpt from her essay:

I previously wrote about Ware’s facility with art historical conventions, which are once again on display here. The Renaissance system of linear perspective, use of symmetry, repetition of geometric forms and motifs, along with a resounding clarity of both color and line brings unity to the disparate pieces. This visual precision and orderliness sharply contrasts with the inherent messiness of his characters’ emotional lives. His main character is a woman who perceives herself as a failed artist; her tender drawings forming a counterpoint to the stark linearity of Ware’s compositions. In the smaller of the two included bound books, his cutaway views of her apartment building recall the tradition in seventeenth century Dutch genre scenes that depicted domestic interiors from the perspective of an unseen observer.

We also have an interview with Ware conducted by Chris Mautner. Here's a bit from that:

Having a family answered pretty much every question and problem I ever thought I had in life; it’s made me a much better person, I think, or at least I hope it has. Though it can’t solve one’s problems if one isn’t already somewhat stable, it can be the final catalyst towards the necessary firming up, or maturation, of the spirit (though America keeps assuring one that this is completely avoidable, if one prefers). I cringe with embarrassment when I think of my pioneer great-great-grandmother Clara F. Abbott and the privation and grimness she endured on the 1850s Nebraska prairie so I could … what? Draw comic books?

Elsewhere on the internet:

—There's plenty more Ware, including another interview conducted by the New Statesman, a registration-required selection of six favorite comics at the London Times, and a collection of interesting posters celebrating local Chicago history.

—But let's go back to Dave Sim for a moment. As many of you probably heard, over the weekend, IDW announced a deal to publish a collection of Sim covers. (This soon turned out to mean not just one volume but "three or four"; Sim-related ventures tend to get complicated.) Yesterday, IDW made another announcement, that they had signed a $30,000 deal to publish something called the High Society Audio Digital Comic Store Collected Edition. (This all happens, of course, in the context of the recent public negotiations with Fantagraphics.) This second deal I find much harder to understand, but presumably what exactly that euphonious title means will be made clear in time. In fact, I think it is likely that Robin McConnell of Inkstuds fame asked about it during his interview with Dave Sim last night. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but it's one of the first things I plan on doing today.

—A couple of Daniel Clowes links. First, a pretty fun Tumblr devoted to Clowes fan art, and second, his official website has launched a new "oddities" section, starting with a pair of Ditko and Kirby pages inked by a young Dan Clowes.

—Over at Slate, James Sturm writes a brief tribute to Matt Groening, and provides examples of cartoons from a poster his CCS just gave Groening in honor of Life in Hell's end. (The artists include Alison Bechdel, Sammy Harkham, and Tom Tomorrow, among others.)

—I feel like a jerk linking to Sean Howe's Marvel Tumblr all the time, but he keeps posting incredible things, so I can't help it. Today, he's got a pretty amazing 1971 debate in which Stan Lee bitterly criticizes the comics industry's treatment of creators, and says, “I would tell any cartoonist who has an idea, think twice before you give it to a publisher.”

—Paul Gravett writes about Asterix in Great Britain.

—Glyn Dillon gave a really good interview to Mark Kardwell for Robot 6.

—Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine has garnered a fair amount of attention for his recent statements on the future of newspaper strips—and the difficulty in making money cartooning online. Everyone who talks about online publishing makes sense to me, whether they're totally for it or totally against it.

—Matt Madden and Jessica Abel have announced the complete list of "Notable Comics" from this year's Best American Comics collection. They are also hosting a giveaway.

15 Responses to Rabbit Holes Everywhere

  1. R. Fiore says:

    The conclusion to be drawn is that Sim was already negotiating a deal for his more salable items for a price Fantagraphics was unlikely to match, and was trying to package the less commercial portion in a way he felt might be attractive to Fantagraphics.

    The way to market the Fitzgerald/Hemingway/Oscar Wilde material is to rewrite/redraw it as stand-alone graphic novels without the Cerebus stuff.

  2. Brian Hibbs says:

    A Moment of Cerebus just changed their headline to explicitly say the “collection” is a DVD — so, no, it’s not a print copy of HIGH SOCIETY, and Dave wouldn’t be “leveraging” anything.

    (This is why it is good for professional marketers to write press releases!)


  3. Kit says:

    Per the Inkstuds interview: the “High Society Audio Digital Comic Store Collected Edition” will be a “disc” collecting all the currently-being-serialised downloadable .mp4 versions that zoom into the panels while Dave reads the dialogue, in character voices. What IDW will bring to the table to make this attractive to comic book shops is excellent production on the packaging of said disc.

  4. Anthony Thorne says:

    The IDW release doesn’t yet rule out a printed edition of HIGH SOCIETY with another publisher, as it’s apparently for the new, all-singing and dancing digital version only for the moment (unless Sim and IDW are keeping shtum on other developments). Realistically, however, IDW would be the frontrunner for further Sim product given how happy each side seems with their current deal. In the Inkstuds interview, Sim described the Fanta negotation as ‘on hold’ rather than over, and evidently doesn’t rule out approaching Fanta if he thinks they’ll offer him better terms than IDW for the printed version, or do a better job overall.

    I’m assuming the $30,000 IDW just gave Sim for the Audio Digital edition of HIGH SOCIETY means that Dave won’t be digging ditches this year. I honestly hope all parties ultimately get what they’re after, and Dave gets to release the full run of Cerebus in nice new editions at some point, and that we get to buy them.

  5. Eric Hoffman says:

    I floated this at the Cerebus facebook page (and was roundly criticized for so doing) but doesn’t it make sense for those who donated to Kickstarter to receive a complimentary copy of this IDW release rather than expecting them to pony up again for yet another iteration of this work? Particularly because the digital edition would not exist without their hard-earned money.

    I mention this because the Cerebus High Society Digital project is quickly collapsing a mind-numbingly confusing and baroque release apparatus: I was led to believe (and have not received indication either for or against) that as a donor I would eventually receive a disc containing the entirety of the digital edition – audio, visual or otherwise. (It doesn’t help that the Kickstarter platform is inscrutable and the number of updates – now at 118 – makes locating the pertinent information a hopelessly futile effort.)

    Now we are confronted with this laborious download process (each issue has been individually downloaded, and multiple times depending on the content you want) that will eventually require a donor to download as many as 40 separate files. I have also been told from a friend who attempted to download the files – I have not attempted to do so, my time is too precious – that the files are terribly slow to download or, worse, that they do not download properly. Perhaps chalk this up to inexperience but, to my lights, there has to be a better/easier way to do this.

    When I listened to the Dave Sim interview on inkstuds the other day, Dave mentioned even more files (Deni’s introductions, the Aardvark Comment letters page) that would have to be downloaded. I thought to myself, “this can’t be good.”

    I’ve resigned myself to purchasing the IDW release, miniature Cerebus bust or no bust, but hope that this release is complete and navigable and, moreover, that they forgo including yet another HIGH SOCIETY or at least make it available without the print version so I can hang on to what remains of my money in this ever-sinking economy. My time is worth too much to spend hours in front of a computer downloading countless files that, apparently, may or may not download successfully. An open message to IDW: keep the price point reasonable.

  6. R. Fiore says:

    I think it is reasonable to assume that Dave Sim himself has nothing to do with the technical implementation of this.

    Just having heard about it and not having read the small print, I would have assumed that this is an electronic version of the complete graphic novel with supplementary material.

  7. Eric Hoffman says:

    R., no Sim doesn’t have anything to do with the technical implementation. And I’m not sure what this has got to do with the price of tea in china, as they say.

  8. Dave Philpott says:

    Seemed pretty easy to download. And this is from a guy that has no idea how to tweet :)

  9. Eric Hoffman says:

    It isn’t necessarily the “ease of download” that rubs me wrong: it is the piecemeal and needlessly baroque implementation of the release coupled with the inscrutably unclear missives from the campaign managers (I still don’t know, for example, if as a Kickstarter supporter I will be receiving a complete CDROM or other such physical copy of the entire project – download-free and easily navigable; if someone can help me on that point, thank you, please). As I said, I haven’t attempted to download yet and based my comments on those of a Dave Sim supporter and friend who was encountering significant technical problems. Perhaps they have since worked out the kinks.

    I can only hope IDW – a professional publisher – will be more successful in packaging and distributing the High Society Digital project than in its current woefully confusing incarnation.

  10. Eric Hoffman says:

    I might add Tom Spurgeon made similar comments at his website Comics Reporter:

  11. Andy Switzky says:

    I contributed to the Kickstarter, and I am quite happy with the result to date. This is such a massive undertaking, I can understand why all of High Society is not immediately available for download.

    I love the audio/video versions. I am thrilled to be able to hear Dave Sim narrating High Society. It is worth it for me to take the trouble to download the MP4 files. This is the Internet. MP4 files are relatively large. It will take a certain amount of time to download.

    I wasn’t confused by the multiple file formats available. I downloaded the formats that interested me: the pdfs and the MP4s.

  12. Andrew McIntosh says:

    There aren’t so many downloads to make—just the ordinary file in your choice of format (.pdf, .epub or .cbz), and the multimedia file—two files max, unless you like to have the same content in multiple formats.

    Deni’s introductions are in the regular files.

  13. Dominick Grace says:

    Actually, it’s two downloads PER ISSUE–so fifty downloads to get the full run of High Society in both the content-only and the audio-video versions. And all the audio content promised–e.g. Deni reading her material–is not yet included but will be in files added for download for later on. So, ultimately, we don’t even know yet how many files in total will have to be downloaded to get it all.

  14. Tim Doggerty says:

    Good for you, had you had problems you would likely be chewed out publicly for bringing them up.

  15. Dominick grace says:

    That said, the regular edition version looks good and has boatloads of bonus features–basically as much content again, more or less, as the original books, though some of will be of interest to nobody other than irredeemable completists. The the audio-video version is nicely done, too; it’s kind of fun to hear Dave reading it all and doing the voices–and finding out how some of the names should be pronounced.

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